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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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We’re overpopulated with oil tycoons and coal barons

These are notes by Ian Angus on his blog Climate and Capitalism of a talk his co-author Simon Butler gave in November 2012 at a panel discussion of overpopulation. With Australia’s population set to reach 23 million, the talk is worth republishing to counter the sewer of shit spewing forth from the ogres of overpopulation. Ian writes:

Simon Butler and I wrote the book Too Many People? ”to promote debate within the environmental movement about the real causes of environmental destruction.”


To that end, Simon recently accepted an invitation to speak at a meeting organized by the Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales, an organization which officially considers population growth as a “a key ethical issue,” and which advocates “a statutory structure to move towards an ecologically sustainable population for Australia, one smaller than our current population.”

Below is the text of a talk he gave on November 17, as one of three speakers on a panel titled “Sustainable population: towards a meaningful dialogue.”  He tells me that his talk “departed sharply from the other two presenters on my panel,” but the discussion was polite and several attendees described his comments as “thought-provoking.”

That’s not a stirring endorsement, but it is a start.


by Simon Butler

I don’t think there are too many people on the planet, but I do agree there are too many of “some” people. I think there are too many coal barons. There are too many oil tycoons. I think there are too many Clive Palmers  – there’s just one of him, but one is still more than we need in my opinion. (Palmer is an outspoken – to put the case mildly – Australian coal billionaire  Ian)

I also think there are too many stockbrokers speculating on food commodity prices and too many coal seam gas wells being sunk across Australia. I definitely agree that there is just too much stuff: our sick economy thrives on waste and an endless stream of products “designed for the dump.”

The relationship between population size and environmental decay has been a long running controversy among environmentalists. But I take the side of the late Barry Commoner, the great US ecologist who sadly died earlier this year. His view was: “It is a serious mistake to becloud the pollution issue with the population, for the facts will not support it.”

In our book, Too Many People? Population, Immigration and the Environmental Crisis, Ian Angus and I took issue with a recurring mistake we found many populationist writers had made about population numbers, which is to think that correlation equals causation. For example, population levels and carbon emissions both rose in the 20th century, but these facts alone do not prove that one caused the other. The cause is still a matter for investigation.

Too often, populationist explanations for our environmental crises fail to look behind the big numbers. Our dispute with populationists is not about the numbers, but about what the numbers actually mean. We think the raw figures can’t reveal much at all unless they are placed in an economic context, a social context, a historical context and an ecological context.

To make sense of population, we also have to consider the unequal relationships between rich and poor, the between the First World and the global South and, especially, between men and women. Countries with extreme levels of poverty, and where woman lack education and economic independence, tend to have the highest population growth rates.

When you break down the population and pollution numbers countries by country a striking pattern emerges, which upends the simple people equals pollution assumption.

In the 20th century, the nations with the highest population growth rates tend to have had lower carbon emissions growth rates, and the nations with lower population growth rates tend to have had higher emissions growth. Clearly, population growth cannot not explain this. In truth, the biggest factor in ecological decay is how a society uses its resources, not how many people live in that society.

Given what we know about climate change and the consequences of acting slowly, it makes sense for environmentalists to focus energy on the most critical areas. These include campaigns to keep fossil fuels in the ground and forests in the soil, close existing fossil fuel infrastructure, build renewables and public transport and spread sustainable farming methods.

These campaigns aren’t new, but they have proved incredibly hard to win mainly because of the array of powerful corporations that stand in the way. To avoid the worst of climate change, we must make biggest polluters write off trillions of dollars of value.

The coal barons, oil tycoons and resources giants have moved to protect their assets from these campaigns. They’ve used their economic weight and political influence to accumulate even more wealth, while working to poison the public debate about global warming.

Their political grip is now so strong, US Presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney could not even utter the words “climate change” in their three televised debates. The fossil fuel industry had spent enough to make sure it won the US election no matter who took office.

In Australia, the two big parties are equally tied to the big polluters. Labor and Liberal both agree that the fossil fuel juggernaut can keep rolling on indefinitely, when the science says that’s suicide.

In Too Many People? we say if we want a safe future, it’s either them or us. Any significant environmental gains will be won only through a confrontation with these elites who are resisting change. No gains will be permanent if they keep hold of economic and political power. And we won’t be able to harness the human potential needed to prevail unless we can build democratic political systems – controlled by people, not corporations – too.

We argue the super-rich are the real ecological vandals, whereas population growth, which has been trending downwards worldwide for the past 50 years, is not a key factor. Our pressing problem is the 1%, not the 99%. Or, as Barry Commoner put it: “Pollution begins not in the family bedroom, but in the corporate boardroom.”

And we also warn that the population argument is too often used to shift the blame for ecological destruction away from the real culprits and toward the poorest parts of the world where the human population is growing the fastest.

If we are to find solutions to the climate emergency, the food crisis and other environmental ills, we have to explore and act upon the causes, not the symptoms. These causes lie in the unequal power held by between different groups in society and an economic system geared for infinite growth on a finite planet.

+++++++++

Ian

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Comments

Comment from Kay
Time April 24, 2013 at 7:41 am

Interesting paper, but unfortunately this discussion does not touch on the difference in the quality of life and standard of living in the lower-polluting, more-rapidly-populating, under-developed countries and the high-polluting Western countries. Is their gradual move towards a more Western style of living (with all our accoutrements like big homes, over-abundance of food, countless electrical & electronic appliances, education, medicine, social services etc etc) being forced by big corporations to increase their profits (certainly companies everywhere try to expand their products into new and developing markets) or are people themselves wanting to move towards a more affluent Western-style way of living? Or is it a happy confluence of aspirations? I for one would not want to reduce my standard of living to that of the general population of these under-developed low-polluting countries.

Certainly the quest for oil and coal has caused great destruction in many parts of the world. And the wealth of countless company directors and executives is quite obscene. But Western democracy’s progress towards our current very comfortable albeit wasteful lifestyle is built largely on oil and coal. I certainly favour a gradual move towards alternative, non-fossil, energy sources – and the sooner, the better. As I’ve said before, I’ve done what I can – installing solar panels to cover our energy usage, and reducing energy usage as much as possible, and reducing use of packaged food etc.

So the message is valid in a way, but too simplistic. Even Ian Angus acknowledges the planet is finite. Is increasing population dependent upon everyone in the Western world lowering their lifestyles to the current poor quality of life of so many in the rapidly-increasing under-developed societies? A very hard sell – not only to the oil and coal barons, but to the population as a whole!

Comment from Calligula
Time April 25, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Kay
Firstly if you are of the female gender and a queenslander you are driving some sort of slalom agenda.

Clearly you have little idea about the resources/energy consumption/wastage about this planet.
We drive manufacturing of commodities away from developed nations toward the third world.
OF COURSE a mob of undereducated, underfed peasants in the third world can build your computer better than a factory, say, in SWEDEN.

Of course.

But please stop pretending the dropping of names and the shouting of spiel makes for comment.

Just give some of us idiots (in yr opinion) a chance to lend their career experience in engineering/manufacturing a chance to have a say.

In the meanwhile – since you wrote it –
Carried on from the Obama attack, these pages (below); permit me to say –
Get serious.
If you were a female of the age you pretend there’s no way you’d be so aggressive and completely rude –
Unless, of course, being a queenslander, you were that proto bogan sort that used to lurk about our drinking holes a few decades back.
Believe they’re called cougars these days.
Never mind.
So you grant me an age between 30-35 right?
Ahhh; I’m granted an age at my prime.
But I note that my pages are crazy and unintelligible?
That I lock onto enpassant to further my own motives?
Yet have I nominated you as a lunatic?
So we both live in sunny boring queensland?
So what.
The place was a pit of corruption and remains so.
As for dunning kruger – I have a certificate from them stating that as a polymath, a humanist, as a perfect renaissance man, that I’m exempt from that sort of niggling.

In fact I agree with Shakespeare – You protest too much.

In saying that I mean your persona is that of some sort of agent provocateur – perhaps even to boost Passant’s flagging pages.
Who knows?
In some ways it is irksome; in other ways fun.

Whichever way it goes it’ll further Passant’s files at the ANU.

Comment from Calligula
Time April 25, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Catharsis –
This year the masters seemed to want to morph Anzac Day into something I’d call, say, ‘Long Tan Day’ – which, if you’re into that sort of thing, was at least a victory by default in the midst of years of American blunder.

I heard some idiot on the radio before “thank the Turkish government for cooperation with Anzac Day” or some such words.
Cooperation indeed – for without their ‘help’ in 1915 an excuse for the event might not have been contrived until the early stages of the Pacific war against Japan.

Given that scenario and the allied nations involved in our immediate theatre (Australia, the Netherlands and the US) the celebration might, of necessity, needed to have been called ‘Anus Day’.
Now that might or might not please the Bogans and certain elements out there – however it certainly wouldn’t have been dignified. (Which is maybe why we needed the Land of the Long White Cloud – just to borrow that extra ‘Z’.)

But La – in this case the accidents of fate went in our favour and in the nick of time lent a zingy, memorable name to a species of tasty biscuits.

As for the eternal battle between the working classes and the bludging capitalists – my reading of history (a resource somewhat better than the schoolbook propaganda) seems to indicate that whatever opposing factions were involved usually whirled about in the continuum of ‘the pot calling the kettle black.

To elaborate I’ll rely upon the work of Messrs. Dunning, Kruger and their equally learned associates.

I shall also provide the equation expressed from ‘Calligulas theorem™’ –
“Stupidity + greed X inertia = the eternal adversarial politico/industrial wind-up.”
The beauty of this equation is that no complicated units or standards are necessarily required.

But there is a proof in that you’ll never hear anyone use as an excuse for their support of capitalism – “I’ve worked my butt off (OT, weekends, no holidays except when I was laid off) for sixty years and in result I’m still flat broke, happy with that and perfectly ready to glass any bastard who disagrees with me.”

Which last bit, when applied to the exploitation of the masses also proves why ‘the catharsis of war’ is so often slipped slyly amongst the propaganda.

As a side issue “Calligula’s Theorem™” can also be used to demonstrate why capitalists are confident enough to mass manufacture automobiles, electronics, white goods and the like to a standard ensuring they frustratingly fail two days after their guarantee runs out.

So you see how the masters arrange a war when they want one. Any frustration, indignity, denial, injustice, deficiency or adversity can be slyly coordinated en masse to drive entire populations past the boiling point.
(To help that along the cynical coordination lately between a certain wingnut and bloodnut seems certain to drive the remains of our education system (such as it was) into perdition.

As for that union’s assertion that “work is more deadly than war” – I’m sure that when WW3 breaks out there’ll be more casualties than 2.3 million a year.
What the unions should be immediately concerned about is the absorption of many defence personnel into the mining industry.
Quite some number of these are veterans of recent conflict and favoured by the mines for their youth and toughness.
Given that the mines environment often differs little in harshness from that of the warzones and given that the mines industry lately seems to be displaying the aspect of a squashed spider it may well be the case that thousands of these blokes will soon be coming back to town looking for a spot of R& R.

Will we have to offer them catharsis similar in nature to what Goebells offered the German nations in 1943?

For the answer please find ‘Calligula’s Theorem™’.

Comment from Kay
Time April 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm

Calligula

And you wonder why no one reads your blogs? The ‘stream of consciousness’ style of writing you favour invariably morphs into some sort of rambling gibberish. And I detect a huge block of wood on your shoulder! You seem to resent everyone and everything. Is there anything you approve of – apart from your own blog?

Haven’t you noticed – 67 year old retired female PS managers can get mightily p***ed off at outright crap. We always the favour the logical, well written style reminiscent of PS Briefing Notes – we’ve had plenty of practice at that.

Comment from Calligula
Time April 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm

Ah. Was that PS or B…S…, madam

Comment from Calligula
Time April 27, 2013 at 1:19 am

I believe Passant has lost his schedule here so I’ll add this –
If I’ve doubled -up it is his fault.
The bludger has probably been enjoying being paid for his anzac day public holiday – been at some pissup and barbecue at my expense –
Mr. Passant,
With regard to ‘Kay’; her hissy ft above
You would know that I’ve not been writing you for some time now until again recently.
I do not particularly want to either bolster your work or hinder your work, whatever that is, at the ANU.

I’m not sure how your ‘enpassant’ pages are going – yet I’d have a fair idea judging by the way the whole show, everything, is being neutered, as they say, being ‘dumbed down’ by the masters.
By this I mean that some fair effort has been applied lately toward some posture making blogs seem passe’, unfashionable, third rate.
So perhaps you make up the load with those new ‘social networking sites?

Not exactly a friendly environment for discourse, eh?

In other words Orwell’s nightmare has finally arrived – they’re good at exploiting the ‘wannabes’ dotted like raisins in the dough of masses to do their dirty work for them.

By now you would undoubtedly have to be aware that the commonwealth of Australia is F.U.B.A.R. – in other words utterly stuffed?
You’d have to be aware that Gillard and abbott are working toward exactly the same outcome and that such outcome does not look good for anyone past the age of twenty from this time forward.
I don’t know exactly when it’ll happen (the turnover point, D-day or whatever) but some time in the near future this island continent will be handed over to a new owner.

As a bloke deemed by the shrill set on the internet – I’m a complete dummox with no couth whatsoever.

And for that reason according to some – I have to give up my right to put my limited views and concerns about our collective future, social justice and a fair go for everyone – to quit and put it into the spam can.

I find it interesting that what is happening here, as it were, in microcosm is happening ‘out there’ in macrocosm..
In fact there is a mob in our little neighbourhood now openly brewing and selling meth to a societal sub-set apparently Fi-Fo/Di-Do mining employees.
When spotted they shriek threats and abuse then somehow have the amenity to call the rozzers to complain about being ‘stalked’ by this old fart doing nothing but going out to collect his mail or take out the garbage.
It might sound to be a small, insignificant issue – but that’s where Kays queensland has gone.
When it catches up with her in her little paradise – if she truly is an elderly lady – it’ll be a shame – but something well deserved – judging by ‘her’ attitudes.
Ggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggg
Kay,
The price of value added commodities has little whatsoever to do with worker’s wages.
When someone I know was custom manufacturing a certain line of equipment here in your queensland he was amazed to get away with a value adding profit margin of somewhere between 1000 to 2000 percent.
Anyone can do that if he doesn’t have to worry about having to compulsorily employ the sort of dropkick floss that everyone in Oz and the usa is stuck with.
With the growing Chinese hegemony and their adaptation of high tech, concentrated and superbly well targetted production/ marketting schemes. – they’ll shortly rule the world economically.

I find myself wanting to say that you don’t have any clue at all.
But, whoops, I have said it –

Comment from Kay
Time April 27, 2013 at 9:51 am

Calligula

Get some sleep! It’ll help your mental instability.

Comment from cockahoop Calligula
Time April 30, 2013 at 3:04 am

Dear Kay –
Kindly boil your tiny head, madam.

Comment from John
Time April 30, 2013 at 4:51 am

On the basis of this ‘comment’ I won’t be publishing any more from Calligula.